Pressure on Suarez and Evra to shake hands before clash
Published 08/02/2012 | 05:00
Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez will be expected to shake hands before the Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool this weekend as they prepare for their first meeting since the race row that gripped English football.
The League has confirmed there will be no cancellation of the pre-match formalities, ensuring Evra and Suarez will come face-to-face immediately before kick-off -- presuming both are selected.
There have been fears of a repeat of the controversy surrounding John Terry and Anton Ferdinand's head-to-head in the FA Cup, when it became clear the QPR defender was not prepared to shake the hand of the former England captain.
The FA then took the decision to abandon the usual civilities before kick-off to prevent a potentially embarrassing snub. But the Premier League has confirmed it had no intention of adopting the same approach at Old Trafford for the game on Saturday.
It will be now left to the players to decide whether to shake each others' hands, and there is no indication from either Liverpool or United they will refuse to do so.
There is hope and expectation the players and staff of all sides will conduct themselves in the same manner as their FA Cup tie 10 days ago. The governing body believes Liverpool and United realise they must strike the same tone in over the next four days. Alex Ferguson says he is bemused by the recent race-related incidents.
"I don't understand at all where it's coming from," he said. "This is a moment where we have to take stock and we should do something about it if it's surfacing again, and be really hard and firm on any form or shape of racism.
"There have been a couple of examples recently which is not good. In 2012, you can't believe it. It was obvious maybe 20 years ago and the improvements have been for everyone to see."
Suarez's return from suspension and the reaction he'll receive from the Old Trafford crowd does add a new element to the occasion, especially as Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish repeated his assertion the Uruguayan should never have been banned.
Although the FA wrote to both clubs advising them to be careful about making any public comments on the Suarez-Evra affair, they did not consider Dalglish's remarks inflammatory. It was viewed he had merely expressed an opinion on whether Suarez deserved to be suspended or not. (© Daily Telegraph, London)